Hiki and Getty Images have joined forces to launch #AutisticOutLoud, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at challenging visual stereotypes and promoting authentic representation of autistic people through the lens of the community.
Approximately 15-20% of the global population is considered neurodivergent, encompassing individuals of various genders, ages, races, and more. However, the media and entertainment industry often portray the autistic community in a limited and stereotypical manner, focusing on white males and presenting them as either infantilised or savants.
Hiki, the world’s largest friendship and dating app for the autistic community and Getty Images, a renowned global visual content creator and marketplace, are determined to change that narrative.
The #AutisticOutLoud campaign showcases the diversity and resilience of the autistic community by featuring a carefully curated gallery of images and videos. The initiative is unique in actively involving content creators and photographers who identify as autistic. This ensures an authentic and representative portrayal of their experiences. These creators will also become part of Getty Images’ global contributor network, contributing their unique perspectives to visual content.
“The autistic community is not a monolith,” asserts Jamil Karriem, Founder and CEO of Hiki. “Yet, in media and entertainment, they’re often infantilised or stereotyped as savants with a voice that typically centres the experience of white males.
“At Hiki, our mission is to connect all people across the autistic community and give them a place where their identities and lived experiences can be honoured and validated. A crucial part of that is for the autistic community to be seen for their tremendous differences and nuances as unique individuals.”
To bring this ambitious campaign to life, Hiki is collaborating with a cross-agency WPP team led by the global media agency network Mindshare. The aim is to reshape the representation of autistic individuals in the media. WPP’s agencies, VMLY&R and Set Creative will work on the creative branding, strategy, and more.
Rachel Lowenstein, one of the autistic content creators featured in this campaign and Global Head of Inclusive Innovation at Mindshare, shared her motivation for participating: “Working in media and as someone who is autistic, I was tired of seeing the regressive, disempowering images of autistic folks in mass media that are at odds with the autistic community I know—one that is highly expansive and creative.
“I’m proud of this project as an opportunity for our industry to reshape media to be more representative of a community that has long been spoken over and for by centring our expressions. That’s why we called it #AutisticOutLoud.”
Building upon Getty Images’ commitment to accurately represent the disability community, the content created as part of this initiative will be featured in Getty Images’ Disability Collection and Unsplash. It will also be made available for commercial use by media platforms and publishers worldwide, fostering greater awareness within the industry. At launch, ten autistic photographers and videographers from Getty Images’ Custom Content team will produce captivating content aligned with the campaign’s goals.
“We’re excited to be a part of this initiative and bring in new perspectives from talented creators who very much represent the diversity of the autistic community,” expresses Dr Rebecca Swift, Global Head of Creative Insights at Getty Images.
“This content is another step in our ongoing work of visualising disability, and our aim is to emphasise to content creators, brands, and agencies the true nature of our global community.”
Getty Images and Mindshare are also collaborating with supportive partners and publishers, including the Unstereotype Alliance, convened by UN Women and others, to extend the reach and impact of the #AutisticOutLoud content.
With the launch of the #AutisticOutLoud campaign, Hiki and Getty Images are paving the way for a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of the autistic community in media and society. By amplifying the voices and perspectives of autistic individuals, they hope to break down stereotypes, challenge misconceptions, and foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the resiliency and diversity of this remarkable community.